Thank you all for your kind, wise and wonderful reactions to my last post. I want to share with you some of the positive bits from last weekend. My sore body is slowly beginning to heal itself, and I’m getting to a much better place in my head too. Yeah, last Saturday kicked my arse, but maybe that was the whole point. Anyhoo, here are some of the things that made me smile.
—It was incredibly dark in the forest before the race started. Roger told me that after he pried me off of him at the start, and sent me into the pack of runners, he was talking on the phone to my mum, trying to work out where she was. He reckons they could have been standing right next to each other, and not have known it. I told him he should have said, meet near the port-a-loos. He said, ‘I did, but she couldn’t see them!’ Poor things, blindly floundering about, who says the racers have it tough?
—The last training run I’d done through that part of the Redwoods had resulted in exactly three face plants. Factoring in the darkness, and extra run time, I figured out that I’d probably be eating dirt at least 7-8 times. How many times did I fall? NONE. Yes, you heard right, Hay remained vertical the entire race. So there! Actually, the pre-dawn running was probably my favourite bit.
— After dropping my headlamp off at the water tower, I heard my name being called. Turning, I saw a vibrant, smiling, gorgeous creature, who introduced herself as Leah, a virtual running buddy. We ran together, along with Brian, another running buddy (who eventually knocked off the 100km in an epic story of sheer determination and grit lasting 16 hours!), and shared a few laughs. Leah would eventually leave me in the dust, finishing over 20 minutes before me, shattering her own expectations and raising a huge amount of money for hospice, in honour of her mum, who passed away. She’s a phenomenally awesome chick. I was incredibly touched when, barely able to make her legs co-operate, she limped down to the finish line to give me a hug when I finished, and shared her celebration bubbles with me.
— At the Blue lake aid station, I got a huge cheer and ‘Come on Hayley! Go Hayley!’ Which left a grin on my face for ages…yes Jonathon, I recognised your voice in there!
— Hearing, ‘Come on Beaker, dig it in!’ And coming around the corner to see the smiling face of my mentor, training buddy and dear friend, Goat. A few snaps, and a quick high-five, definitely a highlight. (About 25km on I would end up crying all over his shirt and expressing my despair rather graphically to him, poor guy, sorry about that!)
— Between the Blue Lake and Okareka there were two highlights. I fell in behind a guy with the sexiest calf muscles ever, phew! Eventually I passed him on the road section, I noticed that he was soaked through, and asked if he’d had a dip in the lake? He said nope, he just sweats that much. Amazing! Around this part I also saw my mum for the first time, as she drove past me, heading to the Okareka aid station. This definitely spurred me on, and getting a hug from her when I finally got there was one of the best parts of the day.
I didn’t notice at the time, but this week on my fundraising page was a donation, and the following comment, which made me so very happy.
I was so excited when I saw your Dreamchaser t-shirt at the Lake Okareka Aid Station on Saturday – to see Chace’s smiling face come running towards me was just wonderful. Rod and Joy helped me track down your blog page so that I could make my small donation. Your effort was huge. I’m totally inspired by the effort of yourself and everyone around you, it was amazing. Huge congratulations!!
— After Okareka, it isn’t long before you hit the Millar Road climb, a gravel road section, which then cuts into the forest again. At the Millar Road Aid station, which I was on last year, I heard, ‘I know you, hello!’ It was the same people that I worked on it with last year, and we shared a laugh over how different it was on this side of the aid station!
— The section through to The Okataina Lodge is the longest, and for me, definitely the toughest. I struggled badly here, so not much to highlight. I ran with my music for some of it, which seemed to help. Near the end, two positive things. I ran into an online training buddy, who was doing the team event. She recognised me by my backpack, and we had a good conversation until I had to pull off to deal with another ugly cramp, which unfortunately I’d battle for around 40km of the race. The other thing was hearing, ‘LEFT!’ And seeing the first of the Elite runners whizz by me so quickly that it was like something out of a comic book. Phenomenally impressive.
— I reached Okataina Lodge aid station, ate, drank and continued on my not-so merry way. This last 20km was hard, but I met some great people. I had a chat to Chris Hope, who runs the New Zealand Running Calendar, one of my favourite websites. I passed Ross Steele, whose infamous Hawaiian shirt made him unmissable. At the Humphries Bay Aid Station I chatted to one of the helpers about Chace and the Dream Chaser Foundation….loads of people had pointed out his picture and asked me about it, so awesome.
— Near the end I joined up with a couple of guys, one of whom I’d spent much of the latter part of the race playing leapfrog with. He’d eventually finish about 30 seconds in front of me, which was pretty cool, at least I never felt alone. The other guy I was walking / shuffling with, told me he’d run a few ultras, but this was definitely tougher than any of his other races, and reckoned it’d be equal to 80 or 90km on the road. Yeah, I’ll go with that. He stopped for a bathroom break and I was able to actually start to run a bit more , so I didn’t see him again after that, I hope he made it to the end okay.
— Seeing my family as I burst out of the bush, so overwhelmingly awesome, though I wish I’d thought to grab the little ones and have them finish with me.
— The lovely guy who took my timer off, gave me my medal, chatted to me about Chace and ignored my girly blubbering everywhere.
— The cold water of the lake on my legs, coffee (!!), meeting Keri and Ryan, the perfect end to the day.
So, all in all, as is usually the way in life, as time goes on, and I reflect on things, I guess it wasn’t too bad….and while I don’t think I’ll sign up to do TUM again anytime soon, it hasn’t killed my ultra dreams, I’ve got a few more crazy goals in the works, stay tuned